I watched as the little girl, probably only three years old, jumped up and down.
‘Yes, Mummy. Please!’ she cried to the woman standing beside her.
She crouched down to her daughter’s level. ‘Daisy, lovely manners, my girl.’
Daisy’s chocolate brown eyes glimmered with happiness. She clapped her hands.
I felt conspicuous watching them, but I couldn’t drag myself away. The little girl’s absence of reserve was mesmerising.
‘Let’s get you an ice-cream, then we’ll spend some time in the playground. I’m sure you’d like a swing, wouldn’t you?’ Daisy’s mum reached for her hand and together they walked off. They entered an ice-cream shop.
I paused at the window of a shoe store, pretending to browse until they came out. The two of them ambled along the shopping strip to the pedestrian crossing. They ate their ice-creams as Daisy chatted. Most of the time, to me, it looked like Daisy’s mum wasn’t paying attention. But Daisy carried on, fervid in her conversation.
I don’t know why I followed them. I don’t know why I sat on the park bench, barely concealing my interest in them. I don’t know when Daisy’s mum noticed me.
My heart skipped as she approached me.
‘Hi,’ she said. ‘Can I ask why you’re here?’
I couldn’t form words, so I stared at the ground. A blade of grass. Anything but her glaring blue eyes.
‘I asked why you’re here. In a children’s playground. With no children.’ Her voice was terse. Anger and fear was fuelling her. She looked charged, her fists closed tightly at her side.
‘I’m sorry. I don’t mean to offend. Just enjoying the fresh air,’ I mumbled. Pathetic.
‘You’ve followed me here. I saw you at the ice-cream shop. Why are you following me?’
‘I don’t know.’ I truly didn’t. Aside from Daisy being the cutest girl I’d seen since Lucy.
‘I’m going to call the police. You need to move on.’
‘They’d be about the same age, you know.’
Daisy’s mum froze. ‘Who?’
‘Lucy and Daisy.’
‘How do you know her name? Oh God, that’s it. I’m calling the police.’ She strode away, phone at her ear, towards Daisy who was still strapped into the swing.
My cheeks felt wet. I touched them. Tears. I hadn’t even realised I’d been crying. I held my head in my hands and let the sobs overtake me. I hadn’t cried before. For two years, and I’d not shed a tear. I’d thrown a lot of furniture in anger. I’d yelled at the walls. I’d screamed at him. Before I threw him out of the house.
It was his fault anyway.
He was the one who ran over her. In our driveway. Our baby. He killed her.